Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Plastered

Normally the docket for the Parker-Gray Board of Architectural Review is a snooze, with a handful of homeowners each month asking for permission to build additions or swap out old windows. But this week's hearing has a doozy of a case.

The developers of the Prescott, the nearly-completed condo project at Cameron and N. Henry Streets, are asking permission to resurface the south side of Bradham Auto at 220 North Henry Street.

They propose to create an entirely false façade using a new synthetic stucco system. If approved, the new façade would include a cornice running the length of the entire building, faux pilasters creating separation for imagined bays, and archways with keystones. That would be quite a facelift for the one-story cinder block building, which was constructed between 1958 and 1960 and lacks historic or architectural appeal.

CarrHomes, which developed the Prescott, doesn't own Bradham Auto according to City real estate records. Why would they want to spend all this money on sprucing up a neighboring building?

The staff report provides a clue:
The resurfacing is proposed to provide a more genteel view of the neighborhood for the new upscale condominium owners at the Prescott. The new condominium unit owners, in the view of the developers of the project, would likely prefer not to
view remnants of the automobile service legacy of the Route 1 corridor and prefer a view of a somewhat clearer environment.
The Growler doesn't have a problem with this project, and in fact is wistful that the developer isn't willing to wrap the entire building, much less the entire south side of the 1100 block of Queen Street.

The proposed resurfacing complies with zoning ordinance requirements, but BAR staff are dubious, stating that "the new imagined Classicism for the rear elevation as proposed is inappropriate for this mid-20th century automotive structure." They recommend deferral for restudy.